Home' The Southern Cross : September 2016 Contents September 2016 Page 19
With a background in vocational training
and a passion for education, Leah Bullivant
is excited by the challenge of her new role
as executive director of the Federation of
Catholic School Parent Communities.
Taking up her position in August, Leah said
she had “hit the ground running” and was
busy getting a better understanding of the
wide range of issues that are important
to families who have children in South
Australian Catholic schools.
The former national business support
manager for RDNS Training and Silver
Chain Training, Leah, pictured, has spent
much of her career in the field of vocational
education with registered training
“To be in education is where I want to
be. I’m really embracing my new role,
learning new things and appreciating the
challenge,” she said.
“I am very mindful and respectful of the
great work undertaken by the federation
over the past decade and I look forward to
continuing this momentum,” she said.
One of the first things on her “to do” list
is visiting all Catholic schools in the State
to connect with principals and federation
parent ambassadors – and through them
hear some of the views of their parent
Leah, who is married to Shane and lives
in Strathalbyn, has two young children,
one of whom attends St Francis de Sales
College in Mount Barker.
For someone who has spent almost all her
life in Sydney, it seems unusual for Nicole
Archard to describe her move to Adelaide
to take over the top job at Loreto College
as a “homecoming”.
However, she believes the Marryatville-
based school is where she was always
destined to be, where she felt the Loreto
values and mission as soon as she walked
through the gates.
“This is the fifth school I have walked into
as a new person and it was very evident
that presence was here. It felt like a
homecoming, it felt like being welcomed
by a family,” the 47-year-old told The
“The Loreto mission is a perfect alignment
to me. My job is to speak to that and
espouse that, and to stay true to that you
can only do it if it speaks to your heart.
When the Loreto mission statement was
sent to me, I just read it and there was
never a question... it was a calling of a
school being around a mission of strong,
independent women with that ethical and
moral framework to their education. It’s
Dr Archard took over as head of the
college in early June after the retirement of
Dr Sylvia Walton AO, who had fulfilled her
She has spent most of her career in
Catholic schools and along the way has
completed a Masters in Theology and a
PhD in girls’ education.
The PhD stemmed from her unshakeable
belief that girls have different needs
to boys when it comes to education –
something she experienced firsthand with
her own three daughters, who are now
“It’s about how girls grow up and how they
move from early childhood, to adolescence
to becoming young women... that is a very
different experience for females,”
Dr Archard explains.
“Being in a single-sex environment you
can cater to that. You can be aware of it,
talk to it very openly, you can create that
safe environment and allow girls to be
strong, independent young women and
have really open and honest conversations
about what that means in today’s world.
That’s what I love about girls’ schools.”
Dr Archard’s thesis looked at ‘girls and
leadership’ and after interviewing students
in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa
and the UK she was surprised to find they
considered their female teachers – not pop
stars or those in the media – as their most
influential role models.
“I have spoken to a lot of women in
education since then, asking them to
think carefully about how they role model
themselves and role model leadership to
others. What do they do in moments of
crisis? How do they deal with stress? How
do they respond to world events?”
For Dr Archard, her own role models are
women leaders who can “articulate a
point of view and be able to hold steadfast
to what is right”. In particular, she cites
former Prime Minister Julia Gilliard and ex-
New Zealand Prime Minister Dame Jenny
Shipley as being “quite brilliant”.
While hoping to be a role model for the
students at Loreto, Dr Archard is also
mindful of being a strong leader for staff.
Since joining the Loreto family she has
met with each staff member individually
to seek their thoughts about the strengths
of the school and the areas that could be
developed or improved.
“It’s not so much about change here, but
renewal and regenerating the educational
mission of the school, which is all about
preparing the students for the world they
will enter. That world keeps changing,
so education needs to keep changing to
She believes technology is an important
part of the future and will continue to build
STEM (science, technology, engineering
and maths) skills and where possible, help
guide students into STEM careers.
“As a country we need to develop STEM
and there is currently a great disparity
in the numbers of females and males
participating in STEM careers. Building
partnerships between university, schools
and industry is really important to
Away from school life, Dr Archard says she
is looking forward to pursuing her interests
in theatre, literature, history and the arts –
and enjoying her new “home” of Adelaide.
Just as Loreto College foundress
Mary Ward believed that
"women, in time to come, will
do much", new principal Nicole
Archard is committed to ensuring
her young charges are given
every opportunity to become
strong, independent women. She
speaks with Lindy McNamara
about her close alignment with
the Loreto mission and her plans
for the college’s future.
Leah to be parents’ voice
Leading by example
ROLE MODEL: Principal Nicole Archard with students at Loreto College.
As a country we need to
develop STEM and there is
currently a great disparity in
the numbers of females and
males participating in STEM
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